Appetizers can set up the evening for success or failure. They can even be a conversation starter amongst those that are meeting for the first time. They also set the tone for the evening. If these appetizers are good, it will help make guests excited about the food that is about to come. However, if these appetizers are flops, then you may have a room full of disappointed guests and that can affect how they see the rest of the evening overall. This aspect of the menu should have as much attention as every other course.
One of the simplest, crowd pleasing options is a nice charcuterie and cheese board. Charcuterie is a French word for cold and cooked meats. Often this is pared on the same board or platter with meats, cheese and other tasty tidbits. Better yet, this is an inexpensive choice with so many varieties that you can really use your imagination with it.
It’s All About the Cheese
There are so many cheese options that you can choose from. Start with something that is classic like an aged cheddar. Then move onto a spicy option like a pepper jack. Then you can mix in some other options as you wish, like Brie, Gouda, or goat cheese. It’s traditional to do a soft, semi-soft and also a hard cheese.
Texture is necessary when you are mixing soft cheeses and meats. You will want something to add texture to the platter to help make it more enjoyable. You could go with a crunchy type of bread or go with the more traditional cracker approach. We often do both! When choosing crackers, we use variety of choices on the plate like buttery crackers and wheat options. A new trend in these platters is pita chips, which can offer a healthier option.
When it comes to these types of platters, meats are just as important as the cheeses. Typical options include salami, prosciutto, smoked sausages, cured hams, capricole and other specialty sliced meats.
This is where you can really play around with choices to help make your platter stand out.
You can go antipasto style with pepperoncini, olives and pickles. Picked ANYTHING is very in right now. Pickled cauliflower, onion rings and carrots will show your guests that you’re inline with the trends…and…they’re healthy! Plus, the tartness from the vinegar helps to balance the richness of the meats and cheeses.
Adding nuts, sliced fresh fruits like, apples or pears, to the platter help to round out the offering. We often suggest dried fruits as well. Dried apricots pair nicely with many cheeses. .
Another consideration is adding a variety of dips and spreads to your platter. Jams (not jellies) are also great for balancing the richness of the soft cheeses. This small little touch can help impress your guests.
The only limitations here are your own imagination. If you would like to add a charcuterie and cheese board to your event, just ask! We love to customize these to your tastes.